Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama addressing AIPAC in 2008 (above). Is the Democratic Party consensus on Israel splintering?
A very important piece at Politico: Ben Smith acknowledges the tremendous significance of critics of Israel inside two Democratic Party establishment-linked orgs.
The Center for American Progress, the party’s key hub of ideas and strategy, and Media Matters, a central messaging organization, have emerged as vocal critics of their party’s staunchly pro-Israel congressional leadership and have been at odds, at times, with Barack Obama’s White House, which has acted as a reluctant ally to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government.
The piece is important for while it grants a platform to AIPAC and Democratic Party Israel lobbyists– Josh Block, who once worked for Ted Kennedy– to pee all over the trend, Smith knows that the splintering I am constantly predicting has begun, and begun where the neocons began their work, in thinktanks. The key players in this piece are MJ Rosenberg and Matt Duss, both effective insiders who are accused of fostering an agenda, but who are merely standing up for an open debate on our foreign policy.
Notice that Center for American Progress distances itself from these new voices:
CAP officials have told angry allies that the bloggers don’t speak for the organization, and senior fellow Brian Katulis – whose work is more standard Clinton-Democrat fare – stressed that in an email….
“There’s a distinction here that we have between the policy work that we do and the blogging work that we do,” he said. Middle East Progress “is clearly a progressive blog and it does respond to arguments that are made most forcefully by conservatives and it responds in that way.”
The director of CAP’s national security program, Ken Gude, also drew a distinction between the blog, which is CAP’s loudest megaphone, and its less confrontational policy work.
I love where Smith quotes MJ Rosenberg saying that Jennifer Rubin has dual loyalties. Brilliant. (When only Eric Alterman, John Judis, Hannah Arendt, and Joe Klein have had the courage to speak openly about dual loyalty previously– Arendt saying that Zionism commanded “double patriotism.”)
The push here is coming from the Democratic base, which includes many non-Zionists. I was at the Nation Institute dinner the other night, and there were many non-Zionists there. We’re in the house. You can’t get rid of us. Smith again:
Duss’s deputies hail from farther to the left: [Eli] Clifton and his colleague Ali Gharib came to CAP from Inter Press Service; their work is still published, by agreement with the Center for American Progress, on the blog of the Inter Press Service’s Jim Lobe, a stalwart of a range of foreign policy views well to the left of the Democratic Party.
Duss dismissed his staffs’ intellectual roots – “they’re just two very good reporters” – or the implication that they were saying anything radical.
“That recognition – there are two narratives here, there are actually two sides to this – it’s a sad statement on the debate in DC that just saying that gets you qualified as anti-Israel,” he said…
The end of the piece is given to Ali Abunimah. And he provides the context– in essence, the Democratic Party cannot marginalize a narrative of self-determination any longer.
“What is actually happening is that the discourse that lot of people in the Palestine solidarity community and activists have been engaging in is starting to break down the walls of the Washington bubble,” said Ali Abunimah, a longtime activist and the co-founder of the site Electronic Intifada. “But political intimidation from Israel’s supporters is still a much more powerful force than any change in thinking at the CAP.”